Friday, January 25, 2008
Our reading club, The GoodWords Book Club, just finished reading A.J. Jacob's The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. I found it really provocative.
A.J. has an accessible writing style that is filled with irony and wry humor. And the book is wonderful spiritual diary of sorts -- even though A.J. is an agnostic. He explores what it means to take the Bible seriously -- and uncovers the absurd lengths that many of us go to make it say what we want it to say.
Certainly, as I read about how he quit cutting his beard because of a Biblical injunction against such an action and then had his closet vetted to make sure he did not have mixed fiber clothing due to another law, I wondered how many people who say things like "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it" choose what parts of the Bible they attach that saying to. I've heard a lot of that kind of language lately in deciding who's in and who's out of church. And to support social stands based on a verse taken out of context. And ... well, I do the same thing, I guess.
The only difference, at least I hope this is true, is that I know I'm reading the Bible through my Quaker lens. And it shows me peace, justice, kindness as the hallmarks of Christian living -- and what it means for me to live Biblically.
A year of living Biblically changed A.J. -- he lived into his Bible-based alter-ego Jacob. And at the end of his year, and after shaving his beard and cutting his hair and going back to chinos and oxford cloth shirts, some of it stuck -- his love for thanks giving and prayer. Reading it changed me, too -- it helped me rethink what I know about the Bible and what I think I know, which parts of the Bible I follow and which I don't (I'll pass on the dietary laws!), and so on. And it reminded me that I need to live Biblically, however I define that, daily -- not just for a year!
Thanks, A.J., or Jacob, or ...